Sunday, April 17, 2022

Corrida de Toros or Blood in the Sand, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico: April 16, 2022


Matador (red cape and sequins on his suit) and Glorioso the Bull

When I visited San Miguel de Allende (SMA) in 2016 for Semana Santa, I went to the bullfight. I had never seen a bullfight and I wanted to see one. The highlight of the night was the Recortes. Recortes is a style of bullfighting in some regions of Spain. Bullfighters known as recortadores dodge and leap over charging bulls without the use of any props. They are acrobats and while if they misstep they might be injured, the bull is not killed and leaves the bullring intact and able to enjoy his remaining days. The low point of the night was the traditional bullfighting ending with the dead bull being dragged out of the ring. Despite bulls being killed, I thought Dan would enjoy the acrobatics so we went.

Bullfighting hasn't happened in SMA for several years and not just because of Covid, but the mayor of SMA brought it back. Grateful spectators had banners thanking him for the return of the bulls. The stands were packed. In Mexico City there is a movement to ban bullfighting. I can see both sides of the argument, but I also didn't want to see any bulls maimed and killed. 

The evening's schedule listed Forcados from Mexico City as participants at the bullfighting event. I confused Forcados with Recortadores. They are not the same! Forcados, like recortadores, don't have any weapons or any type of protection from the bull.  They are not the ones who kill the bull, but this is where the bull evens the score.

Forcados and Cavaleiros are unique to the Portuguese style of bullfighting. The Cavaleiros (horseman or horsewoman) ride beautiful, specially trained horses. From horseback the cavaleiro stabs the bull's back with small spears called bandarilhas. The bull tires from chasing the rider around while getting stabbed in the back. The rider will change horses multiple times so the horse is always fresh and he can buzz around like a mosquito annoying the bull. This night's bullfight seemed to be a hybrid style merging both Portuguese and Spanish styles.

Cavaleiro (horseman)

Banderilleros with gold and pink cape as a distraction (helper to the matador and cavaleiro)
Matador placing banderillas
The matador's performance is judged based on style, finesse, and proximity to danger
The second bull, Glorioso, faced the picadors. Picadors are riding padded horses who are also blindfolded. Picadors wear protective metal armor on their legs and carry long lances used to annoy the bull. 
Glorioso took an immediate dislike to the Picadors and their horses. He charged across the ring and upended the horse and its rider.







The Banderilleros got the bull's attention and eventually the bull charged the picador on the other side of the ring. While the bull was distracted, the horse was pulled from its upside down turtle pose into standing. Even though the bull was actually standing on top of the horse, all that padding kept the horse from being injured physically (not sure about mentally).


Then, there are the Forcados who have no apparent style. This is a group of eight men without any protection or weapons. The front man (wearing a green toque) first provokes the bull into a charge and as the bull charges him, he performs a pega de cara (face catch). He jumps between the bull's horns grabs the bull's head and his seven buddies surround and try to secure the bull until it is subdued. We did not see the Forcados subdue any bulls in the time we stayed although they gave it a good, old macho-male try. It should be noted that Forcados enter the ring after the bull is already very mad from his wounds.

Fresh, clean Forcados entering the bullring









Banderilleros distracting the angry bull
The Forcados lined up again to "Grab the Face"

And, then there were 7 Forcados. The injured Forcado left via ambulance
We saw no sacred processions today. We enjoyed a slow morning and a walk to a new neighborhood and a huge art gallery before our afternoon of blood sport.

Despite all the carnage, when we left the bullfight Michael walked us over to a wonderful restaurant called "The Restaurant." We hadn't had any excellent restaurant meals in SMA because of our long days and early mornings. The food at The Restaurant was amazing and a place to definitely return.

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